Our Faith

THE NICENE-CONSTANTINOPOLITAN CREED (325 AD)

We Believe in one God the Father Almighty, Mak­er of heav­en and earth, and of all things vis­i­ble and invis­i­ble.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begot­ten Son of God, Begot­ten from His Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begot­ten not made, being of one sub­stance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who for us men and for our sal­va­tion, came down from heav­en, and was incar­nate by the Holy Spir­it of the Vir­gin Mary, and was made man, and was cru­ci­fied for us under Pon­tius Pilate.

He suf­fered and was buried, and the third day He rose again accord­ing to the Scrip­tures, and ascend­ed into heav­en, and sits on the right hand of God the Father.  And He shall come again in glo­ry to judge both the liv­ing and the dead; and His king­dom shall have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spir­it, the Lord and Giv­er of life, Who pro­ceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son togeth­er is wor­shipped and glo­ri­fied, Who spoke by the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apos­tolic Church.  We acknowl­edge one bap­tism for the remis­sion of sins.  And we look for the res­ur­rec­tion of the dead and the life of the world to come.

Amen

THE LAUSANNE COVENANT

INTRODUCTION

We, mem­bers of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, par­tic­i­pants in the Inter­na­tion­al Con­gress on World Evan­ge­liza­tion at Lau­sanne, praise God for his great sal­va­tion and rejoice in the fel­low­ship he has giv­en us with him­self and with each oth­er. We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to pen­i­tence by our fail­ures and chal­lenged by the unfin­ished task of evan­ge­liza­tion. We believe the Gospel is God’s good news for the whole world, and we are deter­mined by his grace to obey Christ’s com­mis­sion to pro­claim it to all mankind and to make dis­ci­ples of every nation. We desire, there­fore, to affirm our faith and our resolve, and to make pub­lic our covenant.

1. THE PURPOSE OF GOD

We affirm our belief in the one-eter­nal God, Cre­ator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spir­it, who gov­erns all things accord­ing to the pur­pose of his will. He has been call­ing out from the world a peo­ple for him­self, and send­ing his peo­ple back into the world to be his ser­vants and his wit­ness­es, for the exten­sion of his king­dom, the build­ing up of Christ’s body, and the glo­ry of his name. We con­fess with shame that we have often denied our call­ing and failed in our mis­sion, by becom­ing con­formed to the world or by with­draw­ing from it. Yet we rejoice that even when borne by earth­en ves­sels the gospel is still a pre­cious trea­sure. To the task of mak­ing that trea­sure known in the pow­er of the Holy Spir­it we desire to ded­i­cate our­selves anew.

(Isa. 40:28; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6, 18; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 4:7)

2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE

We affirm the divine inspi­ra­tion, truth­ful­ness and author­i­ty of both Old and New Tes­ta­ment Scrip­tures in their entire­ty as the only writ­ten word of God, with­out error in all that it affirms, and the only infal­li­ble rule of faith and prac­tice. We also affirm the pow­er of God’s word to accom­plish his pur­pose of sal­va­tion. The mes­sage of the Bible is addressed to all men and women. For God’s rev­e­la­tion in Christ and in Scrip­ture is unchange­able. Through it the Holy Spir­it still speaks today.  He illu­mines the minds of God’s peo­ple in every cul­ture to per­ceive its truth fresh­ly through their own eyes and thus dis­clos­es to the whole Church ever more of the many-col­ored wis­dom of God.

(II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, Matt. 5:17,18; Jude 3; Eph. 1:17,18; 3:10,18)

3. THE UNIQUENESS AND UNIVERSALITY OF CHRIST

We affirm that there is only one Sav­iour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diver­si­ty of evan­ge­lis­tic approach­es. We recog­nise that every­one has some knowl­edge of God through his gen­er­al rev­e­la­tion in nature. But we deny that this can save, for peo­ple sup­press the truth by their unright­eous­ness. We also reject as deroga­to­ry to Christ and the gospel every kind of syn­cretism and dia­logue which implies that Christ speaks equal­ly through all reli­gions and ide­olo­gies. Jesus Christ, being him­self the only God-man, who gave him­self as the only ran­som for sin­ners, is the only medi­a­tor between God and peo­ple. There is no oth­er name by which we must be saved. All men and women are per­ish­ing because of sin, but God loves every­one, not wish­ing that any should per­ish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repu­di­ate the joy of sal­va­tion and con­demn them­selves to eter­nal sep­a­ra­tion from God. To pro­claim Jesus as “the Sav­iour of the world” is not to affirm that all peo­ple are either auto­mat­i­cal­ly or ulti­mate­ly saved, still less to affirm that all reli­gions offer sal­va­tion in Christ. Rather it is to pro­claim God’s love for a world of sin­ners and to invite every­one to respond to him as Sav­iour and Lord in the whole­heart­ed per­son­al com­mit­ment of repen­tance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalt­ed above every oth­er name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall con­fess him Lord.

(Gal. 1:6–9;Rom. 1:18–32; I Tim. 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16–19; II Pet. 3:9; II Thess. 1:7–9;John 4:42; Matt. 11:28; Eph. 1:20,21; Phil. 2:9–11)

4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM

To evan­ge­lize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead accord­ing to the Scrip­tures, and that as the reign­ing Lord he now offers the for­give­ness of sins and the lib­er­at­ing gifts of the Spir­it to all who repent and believe. Our Chris­t­ian pres­ence in the world is indis­pens­able to evan­ge­lism, and so is that kind of dia­logue whose pur­pose is to lis­ten sen­si­tive­ly in order to under­stand. But evan­ge­lism itself is the procla­ma­tion of the his­tor­i­cal, bib­li­cal Christ as Sav­iour and Lord, with a view to per­suad­ing peo­ple to come to him per­son­al­ly and so be rec­on­ciled to God. In issu­ing the gospel invi­ta­tion we have no lib­er­ty to con­ceal the cost of dis­ci­ple­ship. Jesus still calls all who would fol­low him to deny them­selves, take up their cross, and iden­ti­fy them­selves with his new com­mu­ni­ty. The results of evan­ge­lism include obe­di­ence to Christ, incor­po­ra­tion into his Church and respon­si­ble ser­vice in the world.

(I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32–39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25–33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43–45)

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

We affirm that God is both the Cre­ator and the Judge of all men. We there­fore should share his con­cern for jus­tice and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through­out human soci­ety and for the lib­er­a­tion of men and women from every kind of oppres­sion.  Because men and women are made in the image of God, every per­son, regard­less of race, reli­gion, colour, cul­ture, class, sex or age, has an intrin­sic dig­ni­ty because of which he or she should be respect­ed and served, not exploit­ed.  Here too we express pen­i­tence both for our neglect and for hav­ing some­times regard­ed evan­ge­lism and social con­cern as mutu­al­ly exclu­sive. Although rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with oth­er peo­ple is not rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with God, nor is social action evan­ge­lism, nor is polit­i­cal lib­er­a­tion sal­va­tion, nev­er­the­less we affirm that evan­ge­lism and socio-polit­i­cal involve­ment are both part of our Chris­t­ian duty. For both are nec­es­sary expres­sions of our doc­trines of God and man, our love for our neigh­bour and our obe­di­ence to Jesus Christ. The mes­sage of sal­va­tion implies also a mes­sage of judg­ment upon every form of alien­ation, oppres­sion and dis­crim­i­na­tion, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injus­tice wher­ev­er they exist. When peo­ple receive Christ they are born again into his king­dom and must seek not only to exhib­it but also to spread its right­eous­ness in the midst of an unright­eous world. The sal­va­tion we claim should be trans­form­ing us in the total­i­ty of our per­son­al and social respon­si­bil­i­ties. Faith with­out works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14 -26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

6. THE CHURCH AND EVANGELISM

We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed peo­ple into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a sim­i­lar deep and cost­ly pen­e­tra­tion of the world. We need to break out of our eccle­si­as­ti­cal ghet­tos and per­me­ate non-Chris­t­ian soci­ety. In the Church’s mis­sion of sac­ri­fi­cial ser­vice evan­ge­lism is pri­ma­ry. World evan­ge­liza­tion requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very cen­tre of God’s cos­mic pur­pose and is his appoint­ed means of spread­ing the gospel. But a church which preach­es the cross must itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stum­bling block to evan­ge­lism when it betrays the gospel or lacks a liv­ing faith in God, a gen­uine love for peo­ple, or scrupu­lous hon­esty in all things includ­ing pro­mo­tion and finance. The church is the com­mu­ni­ty of God’s peo­ple rather than an insti­tu­tion, and must not be iden­ti­fied with any par­tic­u­lar cul­ture, social or polit­i­cal sys­tem, or human ide­ol­o­gy.

(John 17:18; 20:21; Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Eph. 1:9,10; 3:9–11; Gal. 6:14,17; II Cor. 6:3,4; II Tim. 2:19–21; Phil. 1:27)

7. COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM

We affirm that the Church’s vis­i­ble uni­ty in truth is God’s pur­pose. Evan­ge­lism also sum­mons us to uni­ty, because our one­ness strength­ens our wit­ness, just as our dis­uni­ty under­mines our gospel of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We rec­og­nize, how­ev­er, that organ­i­sa­tion­al uni­ty may take many forms and does not nec­es­sar­i­ly for­ward evan­ge­lism. Yet we who share the same bib­li­cal faith should be close­ly unit­ed in fel­low­ship, work and wit­ness. We con­fess that our tes­ti­mo­ny has some­times been marred by a sin­ful indi­vid­u­al­ism and need­less dupli­ca­tion. We pledge our­selves to seek a deep­er uni­ty in truth, wor­ship, holi­ness and mis­sion. We urge the devel­op­ment of region­al and func­tion­al coop­er­a­tion for the fur­ther­ance of the Church’s mis­sion, for strate­gic plan­ning, for mutu­al encour­age­ment, and for the shar­ing of resources and expe­ri­ence.

(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11–23)

8. CHURCHES IN EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP

We rejoice that a new mis­sion­ary era has dawned. The dom­i­nant role of west­ern mis­sions is fast dis­ap­pear­ing. God is rais­ing up from the younger church­es a great new resource for world evan­ge­liza­tion, and is thus demon­strat­ing that the respon­si­bil­i­ty to evan­ge­lise belongs to the whole body of Christ. All church­es should there­fore be ask­ing God and them­selves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send mis­sion­ar­ies to oth­er parts of the world. A reeval­u­a­tion of our mis­sion­ary respon­si­bil­i­ty and role should be con­tin­u­ous. Thus a grow­ing part­ner­ship of church­es will devel­op and the uni­ver­sal char­ac­ter of Christ’s Church will be more clear­ly exhib­it­ed. We also thank God for agen­cies which labor in Bible trans­la­tion, the­o­log­i­cal edu­ca­tion, the mass media, Chris­t­ian lit­er­a­ture, evan­ge­lism, mis­sions, church renew­al and oth­er spe­cial­ist fields. They too should engage in con­stant self-exam­i­na­tion to eval­u­ate their effec­tive­ness as part of the Church’s mis­sion.

(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1–3, I Thess. 1:6–8)

9. THE URGENCY OF THE EVANGELISTIC TASK

More than 2,700 mil­lion peo­ple, which is more than two-thirds of all human­i­ty, have yet to be evan­ge­lised. We are ashamed that so many have been neglect­ed; it is a stand­ing rebuke to us and to the whole Church. There is now, how­ev­er, in many parts of the world an unprece­dent­ed recep­tiv­i­ty to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are con­vinced that this is the time for church­es and para- church agen­cies to pray earnest­ly for the sal­va­tion of the unreached and to launch new efforts to achieve world evan­ge­liza­tion. A reduc­tion of for­eign mis­sion­ar­ies and mon­ey in an evan­ge­lised coun­try may some­times be nec­es­sary to facil­i­tate the nation­al church’s growth in self-reliance and to release resources for unevan­ge­lised areas. Mis­sion­ar­ies should flow ever more freely from and to all six con­ti­nents in a spir­it of hum­ble ser­vice. The goal should be, by all avail­able means and at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble time, that every per­son will have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to hear, under­stand, and to receive the good news. We can­not hope to attain this goal with­out sac­ri­fice. All of us are shocked by the pover­ty of mil­lions and dis­turbed by the injus­tices which cause it. Those of us who live in afflu­ent cir­cum­stances accept our duty to devel­op a sim­ple life-style in order to con­tribute more gen­er­ous­ly to both relief and evan­ge­lism.

(John 9:4; Matt. 9:35–38; Rom. 9:1–3; I Cor. 9:19–23; Mark 16:15; Isa. 58:6,7; Jas. 1:27; 2:1–9; Matt. 25:31–46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)

10. EVANGELISM AND CULTURE

The devel­op­ment of strate­gies for world evan­ge­liza­tion calls for imag­i­na­tive pio­neer­ing meth­ods. Under God, the result will be the rise of church­es deeply root­ed in Christ and close­ly relat­ed to their cul­ture. Cul­ture must always be test­ed and judged by Scrip­ture. Because men and women are God’s crea­tures, some of their cul­ture is rich in beau­ty and good­ness. Because they are fall­en, all of it is taint­ed with sin and some of it is demon­ic. The gospel does not pre­sup­pose the supe­ri­or­i­ty of any cul­ture to anoth­er, but eval­u­ates all cul­tures accord­ing to its own cri­te­ria of truth and right­eous­ness, and insists on moral absolutes in every cul­ture. Mis­sions have all too fre­quent­ly export­ed with the gospel an alien cul­ture and church­es have some­times been in bondage to cul­ture rather than to Scrip­ture. Christ’s evan­ge­lists must humbly seek to emp­ty them­selves of all but their per­son­al authen­tic­i­ty in order to become the ser­vants of oth­ers, and church­es must seek to trans­form and enrich cul­ture, all for the glo­ry of God.

(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19–23; Phil. 2:5–7; II Cor. 4:5)

11. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP

We con­fess that we have some­times pur­sued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evan­ge­lism from Chris­t­ian nur­ture. We also acknowl­edge that some of our mis­sions have been too slow to equip and encour­age nation­al lead­ers to assume their right­ful respon­si­bil­i­ties. Yet we are com­mit­ted to indige­nous prin­ci­ples, and long that every church will have nation­al lead­ers who man­i­fest a Chris­t­ian style of lead­er­ship in terms not of dom­i­na­tion but of ser­vice. We recog­nise that there is a great need to improve the­o­log­i­cal edu­ca­tion, espe­cial­ly for church lead­ers. In every nation and cul­ture there should be an effec­tive train­ing pro­gramme for pas­tors and laity in doc­trine, dis­ci­ple­ship, evan­ge­lism, nur­ture and ser­vice. Such train­ing pro­grammes should not rely on any stereo­typed method­ol­o­gy but should be devel­oped by cre­ative local ini­tia­tives accord­ing to bib­li­cal stan­dards.

(Col. I:27,28; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5,9; Mark 10:42–45; Eph. 4:11,12)

12. SPIRITUAL CONFLICT

We believe that we are engaged in con­stant spir­i­tu­al war­fare with the prin­ci­pal­i­ties and pow­ers of evil, who are seek­ing to over­throw the Church and frus­trate its task of world evan­ge­liza­tion. We know our need to equip our­selves with God’s armour and to fight this bat­tle with the spir­i­tu­al weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activ­i­ty of our ene­my, not only in false ide­olo­gies out­side the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scrip­ture and put peo­ple in the place of God. We need both watch­ful­ness and dis­cern­ment to safe­guard the bib­li­cal gospel. We acknowl­edge that we our­selves are not immune to world­li­ness of thoughts and action, that is, to a sur­ren­der to sec­u­lar­ism. For exam­ple, although care­ful stud­ies of church growth, both numer­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al, are right and valu­able, we have some­times neglect­ed them. At oth­er times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have com­pro­mised our mes­sage, manip­u­lat­ed our hear­ers through pres­sure tech­niques, and become undu­ly pre­oc­cu­pied with sta­tis­tics or even dis­hon­est in our use of them. All this is world­ly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.

(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13–18; II Cor. 10:3–5; I John 2:18–26; 4:1–3; Gal. 1:6–9; II Cor. 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)

13. FREEDOM AND PERSECUTION

It is the God-appoint­ed duty of every gov­ern­ment to secure con­di­tions of peace, jus­tice and lib­er­ty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel with­out inter­fer­ence. We there­fore pray for the lead­ers of nations and call upon them to guar­an­tee free­dom of thought and con­science, and free­dom to prac­tise and prop­a­gate reli­gion in accor­dance with the will of God and as set forth in The Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights. We also express our deep con­cern for all who have been unjust­ly impris­oned, and espe­cial­ly for those who are suf­fer­ing for their tes­ti­mo­ny to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their free­dom. At the same time we refuse to be intim­i­dat­ed by their fate. God help­ing us, we too will seek to stand against injus­tice and to remain faith­ful to the gospel, what­ev­er the cost. We do not for­get the warn­ings of Jesus that per­se­cu­tion is inevitable.

(I Tim. 1:1–4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1–3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10–12; John 15:18–21)

14. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

We believe in the pow­er of the Holy Spir­it. The Father sent his Spir­it to bear wit­ness to his Son; with­out his wit­ness ours is futile. Con­vic­tion of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Chris­t­ian growth are all his work. Fur­ther, the Holy Spir­it is a mis­sion­ary spir­it; thus evan­ge­lism should arise spon­ta­neous­ly from a Spir­it-filled church. A church that is not a mis­sion­ary church is con­tra­dict­ing itself and quench­ing the Spir­it. World­wide evan­ge­liza­tion will become a real­is­tic pos­si­bil­i­ty only when the Spir­it renews the Church in truth and wis­dom, faith, holi­ness, love and pow­er. We there­fore call upon all Chris­tians to pray for such a vis­i­ta­tion of the sov­er­eign Spir­it of God that all his fruit may appear in all his peo­ple and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole church become a fit instru­ment in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.

(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8–11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6–8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37–39; I Thess. 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4–7; 67:1–3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4–31; Rom. 12:3–8)

15. THE RETURN OF CHRIST

We believe that Jesus Christ will return per­son­al­ly and vis­i­bly, in pow­er and glo­ry, to con­sum­mate his sal­va­tion and his judg­ment. This promise of his com­ing is a fur­ther spur to our evan­ge­lism, for we remem­ber his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the inter­im peri­od between Christ’s ascen­sion and return is to be filled with the mis­sion of the peo­ple of God, who have no lib­er­ty to stop before the end. We also remem­ber his warn­ing that false Christs and false prophets will arise as pre­cur­sors of the final Antichrist. We there­fore reject as a proud, self­con­fi­dent dream the notion that peo­ple can ever build a utopia on earth. Our Chris­t­ian con­fi­dence is that God will per­fect his king­dom, and we look for­ward with eager antic­i­pa­tion to that day, and to the new heav­en and earth in which right­eous­ness will dwell and God will reign for­ev­er. Mean­while, we reded­i­cate our­selves to the ser­vice of Christ and of peo­ple in joy­ful sub­mis­sion to his author­i­ty over the whole of our lives.

(Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8–11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21–23; John 2:18; 4:1–3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1–5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

CONCLUSION

There­fore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each oth­er, to pray, to plan and to work togeth­er for the evan­ge­liza­tion of the whole world. We call upon oth­ers to join us. May God help us by his grace and for his glo­ry to be faith­ful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!

The Lau­sanne Com­mit­tee for World Evan­ge­liza­tion www.lausanne.org

Gen­er­at­ed: 17 Sep­tem­ber, 2007, 08:42